The Colonial Pipeline Cyber Crisis

Map of the impacted states along the colonial pipeline

May 13th, 2021- 4 minute read

The Colonial Pipeline, the largest supplier of refined oil products in the United States, has found itself at the center of a major ransomware attack, forcing it to shut down over the weekend.

Here is what we know right now:

  • According to the official website and other published reports, Colonial Pipeline provides roughly 45% of the fuel used on the East Coast.
  • A number of sources, including veteran energy analyst Amy Myers Jaffe,  the most significant, successful attack on energy infrastructure known in the US.
  • Fuel shortages and hiked gas prices forced a State-of-Emergency across 17 states in the Southeastern region of the country. Not counting a growing pandemic.
  • What initially looked like an act of malice is now revealed to be a very “normal” cybercrime using a readymade “ransomware as a service” provider known as DarkSide – who even issued an apology for the attack.
  •  In a statement from Darkside, they stated “Our goal is to make money and not create problems for society.”
  • Though the pipeline has begun reopening, the Biden Administration still has cybersecurity concerns. This is even after issuing an executive order earlier today to strengthen cybersecurity standards.

This unprecedented attack has opened the door for even greater implications for “unknowing” cyberattacks. While ransomware is not a new act, the results have hardly been this severe. It is hard to tell when full-service returns, or what the larger impacts of this attack will be. But in the meantime, we will keep an eye on the Federal government’s ability to ensure safety in the future.

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